Just off the Academic Oval of the University of the Philippines (U.P.) Diliman campus, at the east end of the southern road of Roxas Avenue, there is a corner road at the right named A. Ma. Regidor Street. The road was named after Antonio Ma. Regidor y Juan (1845-1910), who was a Spanish lawyer who supported the propaganda movement for reforms in Spanish Occupation of the Philippines (1521-1898).
The first building that greets visitors is the UP Integrated School (UPIS) High School Building, which was built in 2012 at the location of the former Narra Residence Hall for male students. The dorm was constructed in 1953 and burned down in 2008, whereas the UPIS was still located along the nearby Katipunan Avenue.
The UPIS was first established as laboratory school for the U.P. School of Education in 1916, at the original Manila campus. After World War II (1938-1945), the UPIS was relocated to Katipunan Avenue, in 1956. However, with a business deal struck between the U.P. administration and the Ayala Land realtors, the UPIS grounds were leased to develop the Ayala UP Town Center Mall, and the UPIS was transferred to its present location along A. Ma. Regidor St.
Standing in front of the UPIS building is a statue called “The Teacher”, which was donated by a certain Prof. Marcela Ignacio, in 1963. Although there are no records to whom the sculpture is attributed to, by looking at the almost mannerist style and detail of this classical piece, I can assume that this is the work of Fermin Gomez (1918-2004).
Fermin Yadao Gomez (1918-1984) is a classical sculptor, from Tarlac. Gomez graduated from the University of the Philippines (U.P.) School of Fine Arts, under the tutelage of Guillermo Tolentino. At the outbreak of World War II, Gomez returned to Tarlac, where he put up a bakya (wooden sandal) shop, where he carved the soles into intricate designs. In the town of Camiling, he created a 10 ft tall image of San Miguel de Arcangel for the 100 year old parish of the same name. This caught the attention of Enginer Manuel Mañosa of the National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority (NAWASA), who commissioned Gomez to create a piece that would embody the company’s service to the public. What Gomez created was a monument of the god Neptune with the goddess Venus astride on top of a giant turtle. This impressed Mañosa, who hired Fermin to create more sculptures for the company. With that, Gomez moved to the Balara area, in Quezon City. Shortly after his move, Guillermo Tolentino invites Gomez to teach at the UP School of Fine Arts, which was now at the Diliman campus, in Quezon City. After his retirement in 1973, Gomez and his family moved to Parang, Marikina; where he continued to create small scaled sculptures, until his death.
The sculpture of “The Teacher” is part of the Benito S. Vergara Garden, which is a collection of Bansoy (Philippine Bonsai) by the sculptor Jerry Araos. The garden was originally put up in 1991, behind the nearby Vinzons Hall, by the UPIS alumni class of 1951. The garden was named after Benito S. Vergara (1934-2015), the National Scientist who specialized in plant physiology and rice research. The garden was transferred to its present site, as the lot behind the Vinzons Hall had been reclaimed for the road expansion of Katipunan Avenue.
Jerusalino “Jerry” Villamor Araos (1944-2012) was a self-taught sculptor, who originally studied English at the University of the East before he pursued a life of activism and art. In the 1960s, Araos went into the mountain to join the communist New People’s Army (NPA), in their war against the dictatorship of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos. He was later captured and tortured, which became the theme of his first exhibit “Bartonilna” (Jail), in 1980. Since then, Araos has been known to create sensuous abstract sculptures of people as well as sculptural furniture using old wooden from demolished houses and dead trees. Araos has also made a name for himself as a landscape artist, and he has represented the Philippines in many international exhibitions.
In a garden area, outside the faculty offices of the UPIS, there are several statues that decorate the greenery. There are two statues that seem to be taken from a replica store, a faux bronze Guanyin (the Chinese goddess of mercy) and a nymph pouring water from a jug. However, there is a third piece that stands out for its massive abstracted human forms in a seemingly writing distortion. This is Ildefonso Marcelo’s “The Prayer”. Installed in the 1960s, this piece was Marcelo’s act of giving back to the UPIS, of which he was a graduate.
Ildefonso Cruz Marcelo (1941-unknown) studied sculpture at the University of the Philippines in 1962, under Napoleon Abueva. Marcelo took further studies at the University of Hawaii and Pratt Institute, New York. Marcelo has created many works during the 1960s, and won several honors such as the Republic Cultural Heritage Award in 1961. However, there is very little known about his works after the mid-1960s.
Behind the UPIS at the corner of Regidor Street and Quirino Avenue, the Alonso Hall of the U.P. College of Home Economics’ (CHE) Alonzo Hall seems like an unimpressive edifice to the passerby. However, inside is a modernist marvel of design; with a clean symmetrical layout, dynamic geometrical forms, and spacious plaza. The CHE and the Alonzo Hall were established and erected in 1961, after breaking way from the College of Education’s Department of Home Economics.
At the main lobby of Alonzo Hall, there are two artworks at both sides of hall. The relief installation at the east wall is Ansel Day-ag’s 1960s wooden sculpture of “The Filipino Family”. Day-ag envisioned the family as the center of the disciplines offered by the CHE, which he enforces with four traditional homes reminisce of his Igorot roots.
Anselmo “Ansel” Day-ag (1935-1980) was an sculptor of Ilongot-Ifugao descent. A graduate of the U.P. College of Fine Arts, from 1953 to 1957, Day-ag was adept in classical and modernist styles, but often drew inspiration from his people’s culture as themes in his exhibitions. Day-ag had received many awards for his works, but the most significant was the 1956 Magsaysay award in Composition. Daya- is also noted for his commissioned monuments, such as the Lion’s bust in Baguio, the Eagle’s arch in La Union, Battle of Mactan in Cebu, Quezon Memorial in Hundred Islands, Pangasinan, Yamashita Shrine in Kiangan, Ifugao and President Marcos’ bust in La Union.
At the west wall of the Alonzo Hall lobby is a reproduction of a 1961 untitled painting by National Artist, Jose Joya. The artwork is an abstract representation of various disciplines offered by the CHE. The original painting now hangs at the Alonzo Hall’s 2nd floor Costume Museum, to avoid further deterioration from exposure to the elements.
José Tanig Joya (1931-1995) graduated from the U.P. School of Fine Arts in 1953, and became immediately part of the Neo-Realist movement of the period. In the 1960s, Joya served as the president of the Art Association of the Philippines, and he served as the dean of the U.P. College of Fine Arts from 1970-1978. In 1962, Joya and Napoleón Abueva (born 1930) were selected to represent the Philippines at the prestigious Venice Biennale. It would take 53 more years, before any Filipino artist would participate again at the Venice Biennale. As an artist, Joya was honored with the Ten Outstanding Young Men Award (TOYM) and Republic Cultural Heritage Award in 1961, the ASEAN Cultural Award in 1970, the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award from the City of Manila in 1971, the Order of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by the French government in 1987, the Gawad CCP para sa Sining in 1991, and he was conferred the title of National Artist in 2003.
Across the street from Alonzo Hall is the CHE Gusali II (Building 2), where the Department of Family Life and Child Development (FLCD) is located. In front of the building is an undated, unsigned, and untitled abstract sculpture of the Filipino Family, which enforces the mandate of the FLCD.
Further down Regidor Street is the U.P. PAGASA Astronomical Observatory (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration), which was constructed in 1954. A joint project of the university and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the observatory is now equipped with a 45-cm. computer-based telescope donated by the Japanese Government. This makes the telescope the largest operational unit in the Philippines.
The observatory is just one of the programs between the university and the DOST, because further down the winding road of Regidor Street is the National Science Complex (NSC). Occupying a 21.9-hectare area of the University of the Philippines, the National Science Complex is also home to the many departments of the U.P. College of Science (CS). Based on the Executive Order (EO) 583 by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006, operations of the NSC started in 2009, and the whole complex was completed in 2012.
Within the NSC are the following CS departments: National Institute of Physics (NIP), Institute of Mathematics (IM), Institute of Chemistry (IC), Institute of Biology (IB), National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (NIMBB), College of Science Administration and Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology (IESM), and NSC Technology Incubation Park. Older buildings that are part of the complex before the EO were the National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS), National Science Research Institute (NSRI), Marine Science Institute (MSI) and the College of Science Library, which were all constructed in the 1990s.
Just across Pres. Carlos Garcia Avenue from the National Science Complex, there stands the lone building of the U.P. Technology Business Incubator, surround by a field of grass. Established in 1997, the Technology Business Incubator is a joint project between the University of the Philippines and the Ayala Corporation. This partnership would pave the way for the Ayala’s investments in other university properties, which would eventually become the U.P.-Ayala Techno Hub along Commonwealth Avenue (opened 2006) and the U.P. Town Center along Katipunan Avenue (opened 2013).
Traveling through Regidor Street, a visitor might feel as if one were moving through the timelines of the University of the Philippines. From the UPIS and CHE and their international style architecture, to the late 1970s massive architecture style of the CHE Gusali II, then finally to the ultra-modern architecture of the NSC; the trip down the road seems like surreal experience than a typical day of going to school.